Mentally ill man jailed for punching mother

The island’s top magistrate said yesterday it was “mind-boggling” that he had nowhere other than prison to send a man with mental health and drug problems who admitted punching his mother.

Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe added that it was “astounding” that Bermuda, with all its financial resources, still did not have a centre that could help people like defendant Eric Richardson.

He said: “Countries with less money are able to do this because they realise the best investment a jurisdiction can make is in its people.

“Westgate is not a place for him, but it’s the only place he can be that would give his mother some comfort.”

Richardson, 27, admitted assaulting his 63-year-old mother on April 8 last year after she told him he could not use her mobile phone.

The court heard Richardson was at first sent to the Mental Health Court, but he became “difficult and unmanageable”.

Prosecutors told Mr Wolffe that Richardson could not stay in his family home and that the Salvation Army and the Bermuda Housing Corporation had no space for him.

The court also heard there were no beds available for Richardson in residential treatment centres for the next two months.

Mr Wolffe said the situation left the court with the choice of sending Richardson to jail or releasing him, with neither a real solution for people in his circumstances.

Mr Wolffe said: “It’s an unhappy situation. He cannot pay a fine. If he is released from custody today where will he go? What is he going to do? He cannot be left to his own devices.”

He added: “It’s mind-boggling to me that we don’t have a facility where they could go to get the treatment they so desperately require.”

Richardson told the court that he had been offered a place to stay and promised to stay off drugs.

He said: “I’m going to remain clean. You can trust me this time. I promise I will do nothing wrong ever again,”

However, Mr Wolffe told Richardson he had said the same thing the last time he was in court.

The magistrate sentenced Richardson to three months in prison with time already served taken into account, and two years of probation.

He ordered that the probation conditions include that Richardson go to counselling, take any required medication and abstain from drugs and alcohol.

Mr Wolffe added: “It is hoped that by the time Richardson is released, which may be very soon considering the time he has already spent in custody, a place will have become available in some facility somewhere.”

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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